Monday, February 02, 2009

Saving babies or preaching the gospel?

Some Christians object to prolife activism on the grounds that our priority, as Christians, ought to be evangelism rather than social activism.

To that objection I’d just make one small observation: it’s hard to preach the gospel to dead babies.

We’ve had about 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. That’s 50 million men and women we’ll never evangelize. And that’s not counting abortion around the world:

So I really don’t see a tension between saving babies and preaching the gospel.


  1. Excellent observation, Steve.

  2. "To that objection I’d just make one small observation: it’s hard to preach the gospel to dead babies."

    It's hard to preach the gospel to live babies too. Just sayin'.

  3. "So I really don’t see a tension between saving babies and preaching the gospel."

    Nor do I. Yet I couldn't resist making the point above.

  4. Many try to save babies, but the Gospel isn't so essential, the babies are.

    I heard a wonderful sister in the Lord say that if you are fighting abortion, just to save the babies, without the Gospel, and without thinking of Christ's glory, then don't do it.
    This same Christian sister, had three abortions herself.
    She is such a powerful witness for Christ our Lord, and against abortion.

  5. beowulf2k8 said...

    It's hard to preach the gospel to live babies too. Just sayin'.

    I think Steve's point is that dead babies cannot grow up to hear the gospel. While living babies (e.g. those who aren't aborted) *can* grow up to hear the gospel.

  6. annoyed pinoy are you a filipino american?

  7. "Saving babies or preaching the gospel?"

    Change the "or" to an "and". As you observe, it's a false dichotomy.

    It's Both/And, not Either/Or. I have debated the issue without success with Phil Johnson of TeamPyro (whom I have a great deal of respect for).

    Phil's position (as I understand it) is that conservative Protestants err on the "saving babies" part when they:

    (1) Get too much into political involvement. I'm not sure how he quantifies "too much political involvement", but he enters into the terrain of the church/state/culture interaction question.

    (2) Get involved in alliances with Catholics (or other religions like Mormonism) to "save babies". Phil has stated that Catholicism is a far grosser evil than abortion. (??!)

    P.S. Steve Hays, can you e-mail me at I tried to find your e-mail address, but I couldn't. I'd like to ask you something.

  8. Tuad,

    Could you have misrepresented Phil any worse? I'm trying, but I can't think how...

  9. Hmm... This reminds me of this week's episode of the White Horse Inn. They discuss issues of political/social activism, volunteer organizations, and Christianity. They seem to do a good job of distinguishing being the mission of the church & the actions of individual Christians. (Listen to ~25:30 to ~28:30.)

    How often to people actually object to "prolife activism", vs "prolife activism as the mission of the church"? (Or if they really are objecting to "prolife activism" itself, maybe this is source of their objection--and they're just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.)

    I didn't read Phil Johnson's comments--assuming that's what Steve is referring to--but I wonder if the WHI chaps articulated the common ground.

  10. On Scott Klusendorf's blog post titled "In Defense of Both/And: My Reply to Phil Johnson", I left the following comment which contains a link referencing what Phil Johnson himself wrote:

    "Dear Scott Klusendorf,

    A most excellent and irenic reply. FWIW, I posted the following over at JT's blog [Between Two Worlds]:

    As someone who is a long-time admirer of Pastor Phil Johnson and staunchly remains one, I was heavily involved with him on this "Conversation on the Gospel, Abortion, and Politics". I defended Scott Klusendorf, but it was much more than that; it was that a false Either/Or was being propagated when it seeme clearly obvious (to me, anyways) that a Both/And approach was both good and needed.

    However, it became clearer to me where Pastor Phil was coming from when he wrote the following on 11/11/08 at 8:23am:

    "As a matter of fact, Rome's denial of the gospel, together with her catalogue of extrabiblical superstitions and manmade doctrines that keep untold millions from trusting Christ alone, strike me as far grosser evils than abortion. That's not to minimize the evil of abortion; but hopefully it puts the wickedness of damning false religion in perspective."

    Given this self-revealing clarity from Pastor Phil Johnson I could then see why he was opposed to ecumenical efforts to reduce abortion (and gay marriage too) since he saw the Gospel being diminished.

    As a capstone, all the TeamPyro bloggers provided this post: "The Christian's Priority and Presence: Things We Agree On".

    Lastly, I would like to reiterate my deep appreciation and respect for Pastor Phil Johnson. Although I didn't agree with his position on this particular issue, he is a tremendous warrior and servant-leader for Christ.

    P.S. Thank you JT for continuing the conversation."

  11. LonelyBoy said...

    annoyed pinoy are you a filipino american?

    Yes, I am. Btw, I think there's another person who uses the nick "Annoyed Pinoy" on the web. Whether he/she is an American, I don't know.


    1. if God does save some (or most) infants who die in infancy,

    2. and if the majority of conceptions don't result in the implantation of the zygote onto the uterine wall (resulting in unknown miscarriages),

    then Charles Spurgeon might be right in thinking that when all is said and done, there will be more in heaven than in hell. Spurgeon came to that concludion based on various factors including the high infant mortality rate in times past.

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